Situations are not always as they seem. People who are having control taken from them can manifest that loss of control as anger, withdrawal or stubbornness. They can be difficult to reason with and unpleasant to be around. This is true with adults and children, and especially evident in sick individuals. Often, creating an element of control goes a long way to getting that person's cooperation.
Loss of control is typically associated with dementia patients. But all sick patients can suffer loss of control, particularly those who are hospitalized. Someone else decides when they eat and what they eat, where they will go, what time and even when they can go to the bathroom. They spend their days on other people's time schedules. It isn't hard to imagine why patients get cranky!
Offering patients just a little control over their day can go a long way. Give them a choice of morning or afternoon treatments. Schedule treatments around their favorite shows. Within therapeutic parameters, allow them to choose the order of treatment. Even small measures of control, on seemingly insignificant matters, can have a positive impact on the patient's outlook.
We can use this same approach with children. Give them food choices: sandwich - ham or turkey; fruit - grapes or apples. Let them choose between a few appropriate outfits. Give them a heads-up 5 minutes before leaving a location - now they can choose how they want to spend those last 5 minutes.
It is amazing how calm and cooperative children and patients - dementia or otherwise - can become when we give them back some control.